As this strange pandemic year continues, parents are balancing ways to expose their kids to fun new experiences while still keeping them safe. “Parents have different fears and desires for their kids, and it’s all valid,” says Ruth Wilson, director of recruitment with Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan.
Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan is offering Pre-K and kindergarten-aged girls opportunities to take the Girl Scout experience for a trial run with fun, safe programming.
Through virtual robot building parties and animal dance parties, girls can spend time exploring what Girl Scouts is all about while their parents take a peek into the experiences Girl Scouts can offer. Or, girls can experience Girl Scout programming in their own homes and backyards through GO! Skills Kits and a special downloadable 12-month activity calendar.
“There are so many short- and long-term benefits for girls to participate in Girl Scouts,” says Wilson. “Our research shows that Girl Scouts are more likely to have excellent grades, to choose professional careers like science, technology and law and express hopefulness about the future. They tend to be leaders.”
The programs are designed specifically for Pre-K and kindergarten-aged girls who are not yet part of Girl Scouts. Read on for more about each of these programs and why they’re so beneficial for aspiring young Girl Scouts.
How does a giraffe dance?
Girls can register to participate in a zoo-crazy animal dance party right in their own homes. The free, expert-designed programming gives girls the chance to learn about the habits of animals like lions, giraffes and dolphins. Then they can engage in creative movement by demonstrating how they think each of these animals might dance.
“This is really fun for the girls because it gets them up and moving. They aren’t just sitting as they would during the typical screen activity,” Wilson says. Each program is designed to have a small group of no more than 25 girls.
Then, when they have bounced and shimmied as they imagine a wild animal would, the girls put their artistic efforts into play with a fun craft project, using whatever materials they might have at home. Participants receive a list of suggested materials, or they can pare down to paper and crayons, and simply draw and color their favorite creature.
What would your robot do?
Girls who prefer digging into STEM activities can choose to participate in a virtual robot building party. “This is such a fun thing for young girls to imagine their own robots,” Wilson says. “We talk about what robots are and why we have them. Then we ask girls what they would have their own robot do.”
Many girls say they would task the robot to clean their rooms, do their chores or complete their homework. Others say their robot would just be their friend.
“During some of these parties, we have asked parents how they think a robot would help their girl, and they often say that the robot would help their daughter speak up in school, help her succeed in school or make friends with other girls in their neighborhoods — all of which is precisely what Girl Scouts is all about,” Wilson says.
Each girl builds her own robot from whatever craft items she might have at home and then she presents her invention to the group. “Some girls say their robots have long arms so they can give hugs or they have sticky hands so they can pick up things off the floor,” Wilson says.
Like the animal dance parties, the robot building parties are free for girls to participate in and are a great way for families to learn more about Girl Scouts.
While the animal dance parties and robot building parties are currently online, Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan will move the events to neighborhood parks when the weather allows. Join the party!
Exploring at home is just as much fun
Girl Scouts is all about outdoor activities such as orienteering, hiking and camping. While group activities are difficult right now, Pre-K and kindergarten-aged girls can explore their backyard or neighborhood terrain through Daisy GO! Skills Kits, available through Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan.
“I’m very impressed with how Girl Scouts has been able to flip the switch during this pandemic, and we’ve been able to do this very effectively through outdoor programming,” says Gretchen Abrams, director of camps and outdoor education with Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan. “We have always been about getting girls outdoors and cultivating the environmental stewards of the future and this year we have had to reinvent how we get girls interested, and Girl Scouts as a whole has risen to that challenge.”
Girl Scouts is offering a variety of kits to jump-start excitement and interest in programming and they are available to any girl, Abrams says. Kits can be purchased and picked up from as many as six pickup locations across eight counties in southeast Michigan.
The Hit the Trails kit provides information about how to be safe when hiking trails and the basic principles of Leave No Trace. “There’s a card to clip to a backpack to learn trail etiquette, plus a trail map of local areas. It’s just a couple of items to really get girls started with getting outside,” Abrams says. Taking the concept of GO! (get outdoors) very literally, these kits encourage even the youngest girls to explore and investigate and take the time to observe their surroundings, no matter where they are.
“We are all experiencing a little bit of virtual learning burnout, but we still want to belong to something outside the normal day. Kids really need to get involved in something bigger than themselves and Girl Scouts gives them the opportunity to do that in a fun and educational way,” Abrams says.
On rainy days or when families are looking for just a little activity, they can download a calendar of fun activities to keep busy in a low-tech way. “There are coloring activities and puzzles,” Wilson says. “I really love this because we are always giving kids ideas for things they can do and participate in. Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan is really about being active because it’s so beneficial to young girls.”
Learn more about Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan at gssem.org.